Communities are split by the wedge of abortion rights, with pro-choice and anti-abortion doctors working tensely together in the same public hospitals and protesters yelling outside: It's a familiar image in the United States, but lately abortion has polarized another country perhaps even more. Just two years after Mexico City became the first major Latin American capital to legalize it, abortion has become a flashpoint for social conflict throughout the country. Today, a wave of anti-abortion legislation is moving across Mexico's states and towns, and both abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists and legislators are preparing for full-blown war.
As in the United States, the conflict is as much about politics as it is about abortion. Mexican political parties here have found that the touchy social topic is a useful polarizer -- one that fires up voters on both sides. With the presidential election coming up in 2012, parties are already trying to line up fervent supporters. So recently, the moderate Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has joined the ruling conservative National Action Party (PAN) in backing anti-abortion reforms. The PRI's decision is a major political gamble. A party from the center that was in power for decades before being unseated by PAN presidents Vicente Fox in 2000 and Felipe Calderón in 2006, the PRI is betting that abortion might just be the issue that could attract just enough conservative voters to bulk up its usual moderate core, snag PAN's base -- and repay Calderón the electoral favor.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Mexico's Abortion Debate
Exodus's own Alexis Okeowo checks in from Mexico City with a note on the growing polarization due to the abortion debate. To my immense satisfaction, the piece dings Beatriz Paredes. Here's the intro: